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Crimean Tatar community

Crimea is a peninsula on the northern coast of the Black Sea and an autonomous Russian-speaking republic of Ukraine.

The Crimean Tatars "first came on the map" around 1241, when Batu Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan, conquered the region, making it a strategic part of the Mongol empire and close trading partner with the emerging power center of Moscow. By the 15th century, the group fell to the Ottoman Empire. In 1771 Russian troops arrived in Crimea and by 1783, Russia carried out the complete annexation of Crimea. By the end of the 19th century, the Tatars’ population was reduced to about one-third of what it had been prior to Russian annexation.

In the 20th century, in 1944, Josef Stalin deported the entire Crimean Tatar population to Central Asia and other parts of the Soviet Union for their alleged collaboration with the Nazis. As a result, the Tatar language was forbidden. In 1954, the Soviet Union, under the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev, transferred Crimea from the RSFSR to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Crimea became part of independent Ukraine.

About 46% of Crimea’s Tatars lost their lives in what remains one of the worst campaigns of ethnic cleansing in the already bloody 20th century. Crimea was emptied of Tatars. Their cultural sites, libraries containing ancient scriptures, and cemeteries were almost all destroyed.

In the 1960s, the Soviet government admitted to wrongdoing and allowed some deported Tatars to return to their homeland. National Tatar Committees were formed to facilitate this process. Tatar groups at times acted with government permission, but many were still brutally suppressed. The makeshift homes of Crimean Tatars were repeatedly destroyed by the Soviet authorities, and many activists were jailed and subjected to inhumane treatment. Today, there are about 300,000 Tatars in Crimea and 100,000 in exile in former Soviet territories.

In Poland, the Tatar cmmunity established the largest centre of Muslim culture in. They are often referred to as Lipka Tatars Polish Tatars, Lipkowie, or Muślimi.

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